Hock handed lengthy ban

Congleton Guardian: Gareth Hock, centre, has been handed a seven-match suspension Gareth Hock, centre, has been handed a seven-match suspension

Salford's former England forward Gareth Hock has been banned for seven matches after being found guilty of making deliberate physical contact with a referee.

The 30-year-old second rower was also fined £300 by an independent disciplinary panel meeting at the Rugby Football League headquarters in Leeds.

Hock was chasing a kick during the first half of Saturday's First Utility Super League match against Hull when he came into contact with referee Matt Thomason, who was knocked to the ground.

The player claimed the collision was not deliberate but the panel found him guilty of the grade E offence, which carries a ban of between four and eight matches.

Hock was never likely to be shown much leniency after having already been punished twice before for similar offences.

In July 2008 he was given a five-match ban after being found guilty of pushing referee Ian Smith while playing for Wigan against Huddersfield and in May 2013, during a loan spell with Widnes, he was banned for four games for making deliberate contact with referee George Stokes

The suspension effectively ends Hock's season unless he wins an appeal. Salford have just seven matches left of the regular season, although they still have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs.

Hock, who served a two-year ban for testing positive for cocaine in 2009, was axed from England's World Cup squad last October after breaching disciplinary rules and was not included in coach Steve McNamara's 34-strong squad for a mid-season training camp.

Salford have accepted the ban, with owner Marwan Koukash announcing on his Twitter account that there would be no appeal.

"Not going to waste time and money on appealing," he said. "Hope our players make sure that Hock plays again this season. Let's move on."

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